I am not a photographer, and would never claim to be. But these are photographs that I took of a few of the participants of the palliative care training course for francophone Africa that is currently being held at Hospice Africa Uganda. Some of these photos are published on the African edition of ehospice.
Category Archives: Health
This is an article that I wrote for the Africa edition of ehospice.
Mutagubya Bruno is the son of Lawrence Ssenyonde. Lawrence has cancer of the prostate and needs oral morphine to relieve his pain. Bruno recently talked to ehospice about what life is like caring for a family member in severe pain.
On the outskirts of Kampala, Mutagubya Bruno lives with his mother and father. A small alleyway leads to a neatly kept garden that is lined with palm trees and freshly hung clothes on a washing line. Bruno breaks the conversation he is having with his mother as a small delegation from Hospice Africa Uganda arrive through a side gate to their house.
In the living room, the three health care professionals sit in a line craning their necks to try and listen to Bruno’s father as he describes his pain. As Bruno’s father speaks, one of the nurses sorts through her case notes. She glances at the previous dosages of oral morphine Bruno’s father has received.
Throughout the conversation Bruno sits on the edge of a worn-out arm chair opposite his father looking on.
This is an article that I wrote for the African edition of ehospice news.
“The African Palliative Care Association (APCA), in collaboration with The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA), the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Uganda and the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), has launched a series of publications on legal and human rights issues in palliative care.
This is an article that I wrote for ehospice on a new study outlining the cost of living with HIV in Africa.
The African Palliative Care Association (APCA) and Measure Evaluation have launched a new study on the cost of HIV care, treatment and support in Africa.
The study, based in Uganda, found that the average adult with HIV pays out $98 annually on indirect costs such as transportation and time lost to receive care, treatment and support. In addition to this the study estimated that the annual cost of delivering anti-retroviral therapy (ART) was $281 per patient.
The study will have a direct impact on the 1.2 million Ugandans currently living with HIV…
This is an article that I wrote for ‘ehospice‘ about my recent visit to a hospice in Kampala.
An incongruous collection of books sit on the shelves next to hand-made jewellery and other bits of bric-a-brac. I stand and flick through the books for a minute enjoying being out of the hot Kampala sun. As I rummage around looking for a bargain the shop assistant, Joy, begins to talk to me about her role at Hospice Africa Uganda.
Joy is one of a dedicated team of volunteers who make it possible for the hospice to carry on offering palliative care services to patients with Cancer and/or HIV/AIDS. Joy, a recently retired surgical nurse, is clearly someone who is driven by the need to help others. When I ask her why she gives up five days a week to help at the hospice she explains:
“The pursuit of happiness is enshrined into the US Constitution, the subject of countless books and is now even being measured by governments. Policy makers and development agents are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy at all costs. In light of this, the UN today marks its first ever ‘International Day of Happiness’.
To read the full article click here >>>
“When I entered the door of the “family friends,” I was horrified to see several naked girls on the floor who were being cut. When I realized that this was a trap, I cried out and struggled to leave the house, but it was too late. My clothes were torn off, and three women pinned me to the ground while two others used a dirty knife to mutilate me. The pain was excruciating, and I struggled and screamed throughout the procedure. I couldn’t walk normally, and I experienced recurring bleeding for several weeks after the procedure”
This was the reality of one girl who experienced ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ (FGM), but she is one of over 100 million girls who have experienced FGM. FGM is practiced in 28 African countries, Israel, Iraqi Kurdistan, Oman, Yemen, and occurs within migrant communities around the world including in the United Kingdom.
Today marks a globally coordinated effort to help eliminate this practice – the ‘Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM’. A cause that I passionately support.
Is the traditional human rights approach to tackling FGM the most effective?
FGM is undoubtedly, a violation of a girl’s human rights. It amounts to nothing short of torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment as prohibited in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Amnesty International goes further saying it can prohibit a girl’s right to:
- Physical and mental integrity
- Freedom from violence
- The highest attainable standard of health
- Freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex
- Life (when the procedure results in death)
FGM however is a bit of an anomaly in human rights violations. It is more than possible for the violator to care for the victim. Indeed, it is possible for the perpetrator to honestly believe they are acting in the victim’s best interest.
Very few other human rights violations involve this dynamic.
Many of the women who take part in the practice will defend their actions on grounds of tradition, religion or even health.
Normally these assertions do not hold up to rational analysis. For example, the WHO has condemned the practice saying it has “no health benefits” and can have numerous long term health consequences.
Tackling FGM then is partly about education, to break down lingering myths. It is also more complicated than though as there are still many who see it as a positive act – despite the risks and pain it can involve.
My partner told me about an interesting sexual health survey she helped undertake in Sierra Leone where the women were asked to fill out sexual health time-lines with positive events above the line and negative events below. Each woman put their ‘initiation’ above the line.
Thus the problem is two-fold. It is a human rights violation where potentially neither the violator nor the violated may understand it as a problem.
This is not to undermine the fact that it is torture, and that it can, and often does, have serious long-term consequences. Nor does it undermine the girls who have stood up and campaigned against this practice.
It is simply to point out that there might be a contradiction between the west’s commitment to participatory approaches to development and our more absolutist approach to human rights. How do we reconcile this?
This isn’t the only issue…
When we are looking to stamp out this practice – something which I am passionate to do –how do we avoid the ‘double punishment’ to the victim of having their genitals cut and losing their mother? Is it in the child’s best interest to see their mother sent to prison for X number of years?
Equally, how do tackle FGM in an equal and fair manner. The academic, Marie Dembour puts forward a moral dilemma to draw out inconsistencies in western approaches to FGM.
You have two court cases involving FGM. One where the mother did it because she loved her child and it was part of her cultural upbringing. The other where the mother brutally attacked the daughters genitals and there were no cultural arguments to mitigate the action.
Should the crimes have equal punishment?
If you think they shouldn’t, how do you level the criticism that you are protecting one child more than the other? Is the deterrent less if you come from a group who traditionally practice FGM?
If you think they should have the same punishment, do you just ignore all of the mitigating ‘culturally relative’ evidence?
I have no concrete easy answers to this, or any other question I have put forward so far.
I feel uncomfortable that some of those campaigning against the practice seem uninterested in trying to understand the complexity of the arguments and to empathise with those practicing FGM.
Interestingly, one of the most positive examples of eliminating FGM came through the project ‘Tostan’ in Senegal which the founder said, “didn’t set out to end FGC” but to empower communities.
Maybe there is a lesson to be learnt.
In 1990 the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Inexplicably, it left being being Transgender on this list.
Considering ’Gender dysphoria’ (as it is officially called) as a mental illness is a hangover from a historical prejudice. I am deeply shocked that the WHO has not proactively worked to rectify this situation in the last 22 years.
Please sign this petition and make your voice heard loud and clear.
Transgender is not a mental illness.
Thanks to Peter Tatchell for raising this to my attention:
Earlier today the Liberal Democrat Press team tweeted:
Does Andy Burnham remember the £12bn Labour wasted on a computer system that never worked? Could've paid 60,000 nurses for a decade instead—
Lib Dem Press Office (@LibDemPress) October 03, 2012
This struck me as odd.
The minimum starting salary for a NHS nurse is £21,176 (as of April 2012). Multiply this by 10 (‘a decade of employment’) and you get £211,176. Then multiply this by 60,000 (the number of nurses) and you get £12,705,600,000. That’s £705 million over budget.
Of course, this is worked out assuming all nurses just earn a starting salary. In the same pay band, a nurse could earn up £27,625. Equally, in the London area there is an additional 5-20% pay increase for nurses. Also, this calculation does not cover nurses with any sort of specialism who sit in higher pay brackets.
I don’t know what the average staff salary is in the NHS. If it was around £25,000 (to make my maths easy) then this would leave the Lib Dem claim £3billion over budget.
For £12 billion we could employ 48,000 nurses on an average of £25,000 over 10 years. 12,000 nurses less than they claimed.
Being kind, we will assume they ment to say “entry level nurses” – but even then they seem to have rounded down by £705 million.
Leo McKinstry should be glad there isn’t a fit for work test for journalists. If there was, he’d fail
This is a guest article from Eugene Grant. Eugene works in the third sector as a public policy advisor on poverty and welfare, and comments regularly on disability and issues of social policy. He blogs at Dead Letter Drop.
“Over the last few months we have seen a continuous drip-feed of stories which have promoted a range of inaccurate and generalised accusations against disabled people with long term health conditions. As a result disabled people have faced greater hostility from the public, with many claiming that they have experienced hostility, discrimination and even physical attacks from strangers.”
So starts the National Union of Journalists’ opening statement on media coverage of disabled people.
Last summer, a report strongly criticised some sections of the media for the way in which they reported stories on disability benefits. Specifically, the pejorative language such as the use of terms like ‘work shy’ or ‘scrounger’. The fact that this report came, not from a ‘usual suspect’ disability charity or campaign organisation, but from the respected, cross-party Work and Pensions Select Committee is an indication as to just how serious the problem has become.
The 2012 London Paralympics is a wonderful opportunity to openly celebrate disability and difference. But, a change in our social narrative is badly needed. As I have written before, disability hate crime – which itself is under-reported and often ignored by police – remains a vile and stubborn stain on our social fabric.
This goes not just for adults, but children too; a recent academic study of disabled children found a fifth of them had been attacked physically, sexually, abused emotionally or neglected.
It is worth bearing this all in mind, when you read this spiteful, professionally weak and woefully misleading article, titled, ‘The Paralympics show up a corrupt benefits system’ by Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express. It is not that Mr McKinstry’s view of the welfare state differs to mine, which vexes me most; I fully accept that people will have different views on what the role of the state should be in providing disabled and vulnerable people with financial support. It is the fact that Mr McKinstry’s tendentious argument is based on un-checked, un-picked and inaccurate assumptions; he presents fiction as fact and fact as fiction.
Let the dissection begin.
He says: “One particular target of the activists’ fury is the international firm ATOS, which, under the coalition’s new, more rigorous, benefits regime, carries out assessments to decide if individuals are fit to work and what level of support they might require.”
He is correct in so far as Atos – which, with a note of sad irony, also sponsors the Paralympic games – does conduct the government’s fit-for-work assessment, the WCA. But this is a test that is not fit for purpose. Were it fully functioning it would not have been the subject of several internal and independent reviews; nor would experts like Paul Gregg - who designed some of the welfare-to-work support packages connected to the test – have spoken out against it; nor would almost a third of those decisions that are appealed then be successfully overturned in favour of the claimant. But no matter. Let’s move on.
He writes: “[Benefit] claims have rocketed in recent decades because the system is so lax. In fact, the definition of incapacity has been remorselessly expanded to widen the scope for dependency.”
I presume he means when in 2005 the Disability Discrimination Act was expanded to include conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and HIV? So, none of these conditions could have adverse impact on a person’s ability to work or give rise to any additional costs? Right. There’s a reason you’re not a doctor, Leo.
He goes on “claims for incapacity benefit are dominated, not by the physically disabled, but by those with mental health problems like depression, stress and behavioural disorders.”
Read this again. What he’s suggesting is that people with mental health issues should not be entitled to state support, or that they’re all fakers who should just snap out of it. I myself am not an expert in mental health conditions but I’m pretty sure my colleagues over at Mind and Rethink would know of some people who would take serious issue with this.
He goes on:
“In this chaotic world, it is no surprise, that the total number of people on Disability Living Allowance has gone up from 1.1 milllion in 1992, when the benefit was first introduced, to 3.2 million today…”
See what he’s done here? All he’s done is point out that the caseload for DLA (a vital benefit that acts as a contribution to the extra costs disabled people have to pay as a result of living in our society with an impairment or condition) has increased. The ‘chaotic world’ and ‘no surprise’ bits helps frame it in a way that leaves readers with the impression that the only explanation for this rise in claims for DLA must be because people are fraudulently claiming it. Not because, oh I don’t know, that it’s well established that our society is getting progressively older and disability increases with age? Or that more people with critical needs are surviving into later life? Or that medical advancements are enabling many disabled people to live longer? Or that academic research shows that survival rates of very premature babies are, thankfully, improving, which suggests the number of people born with severe disability has increased. But these things are of no consequence right?
But wait, here comes the best bit. McKinstry writes:
“AND the anti-reform campaigners are in denial about the extent of this costly failure. They are fond of telling us that fraud represents just 0.5 per cent of disability claims, but that is a completely bogus figure.
In the courts there is a constant parade of cases involving serious benefits fraud, like the conviction last week of serial cheat Barry Brooks, who grabbed £1.8 million from the taxpayer by pretending to be confined to a wheelchair”
First, is the claim that the 0.5% fraud rate for DLA is “bogus…” Funny that, when you consider the figure comes from – wait for it – the Department for Work and Pensions. But more to the point, his only evidence for his claim that a Government statistic is ‘bogus’ is that there have been court cases of benefits fraud brought to his attention – of which he cites just one. And even then he fails to pick a case of DLA fraud. A quick Google search of Barry Brooks shows that he was jailed for fraudulently claiming support from Access to Work, and not DLA.
Mr McKinstry, you can lambast the welfare benefits system all you like. All that I ask is that, as a journalist, you do it accurately and check your line of argument. It’s a shame there isn’t a fit for work test for journalists and social commentators. If there was, you would fail it miserably.
“We are not in search of death; we are looking for real life”
These are the words of the hunger strikers’ declaration broadcast over loudspeakers at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Today these words strike a sad pertinence.
As I write this article Samer al-Barq remains on hunger strike. He has not eaten now since 22nd May. 87 days have now passed. To put this into context, Mahatma Gandhi’s longest hunger strike lasted 21 days. By 21 days most people on hunger strike will have loss the sensation of thirst, find standing difficult or impossible and have a sensation of being always cold.
Samer has been on hunger strikes four times longer than that.
From 45 days onwards death becomes a very real possibility from cardiovascular collapse. Samer has been living with the possibility of death now for over a month.
According his lawyer, not only has Samer not received the medical care he requires he has also faced beatings. Amnesty International reported that his lawyer said that “guards have beaten and verbally abused [Samer]”.
Amnesty International has called on the Israeli authorities to “investigate allegations that Samer al-Barq has been ill-treated while in detention and ensure he is treated humanely, and not punished in any way for his hunger strike”.
Samer remains imprisoned under ‘administrative detention’ which is the “detention without charge or trial that is authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial decree”. In other words, it is being held with charge or trial. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem considers Israel’s on-going use of administrative detention a violation of International Humanitarian Law as it is only justified in use in the “most exceptional circumstances”.
Israel is currently holding 250 Palestinians under administrative detention.
Samer’s hunger strike was avoidable. In May, Samer stopped his 50 day hunger strike along with 2,000 other hunger strikers after an Egyptian brokered agreement. He resumed his hunger strike a week later however when his detention without trial was extended for a further three months.
Samer is not looking to die, but he is willing to risk death in search of real life with real freedoms. As an occupying power in Palestine, Israel dictates whether or not he and his countrymen can have these freedoms.
Israel must end its use of administrative detention.
The silence was the most telling part of the whole meeting. The silence was intermittently punctured by the muttering of an occasional word. These words though, when they came, held the weight of a thousand. In this silence I could feel the presence of Waseam Barahem next to me throughout the meeting. Even when others were speaking I was conscious of his silence next to me.
Just over three weeks ago, seventeen year old Waseam was struck in the head by a tear gas canister, nearly died and momentarily lost his ability to speak. Today he is only able to say a few words. His father, Abu Walid remembers the day painfully, “I saw it all, I saw the soldier aim directly at my child”. Accounts vary, but most report the soldiers being fifty to one hundred meters away. All accounts that I have heard agree that the soldiers were firing directly into the crowd. This is something I have seen too many times before and is something that the IDF’s own regulations prohibit.
Waseam was struck directly on his head and suffered large amounts of internal bleeding. He was taken first to Nablus but then to a hospital in Jordan for a life saving operation.
His father described to me the moments after the shooting, “At first I didn’t think it was serious, just some blood on his head. Then the man who works with the ambulance told me it was bad. I wanted to go through the olive trees [to avoid the Israeli flying checkpoint] because I was worried they would try to arrest Waseam [on the way to the hospital]. The man who works with the ambulance though told me we had to go straight through the checkpoint because we didn’t have time to go through the trees. The soldiers also knew it was serious because when we come they open the checkpoint for us. They telephoned ahead to the hospital because they knew every minute counted”.
By any account Waseam is lucky to be alive.
Less than six months ago Mustafa Tamimi died after being struck by a tear gas canister. It is a very real danger that both internationals and Palestinians face when they attend protests.
Regardless of the dangers, the villagers of Kafr Qaddum continue to protest every Friday. I asked Waseam if he was worried about this coming Friday’s demonstration and the possibility of soldiers coming into the village. His answer was short but clear, “next Friday, I will go to the demonstration”. I looked at Waseam trying to read him, to distinguish the macho pride of a seventeen year old boy from what he was really feeling. Did he really not feel any fear after having such a close brush with death?
I turned to his father and asked if he was happy with his son being on the streets during the demonstration. His answer was framed in the context of the impossibility of criticising anyone who is ‘opposing the occupation’. He half shrugged and said “I always knew he would protest”.
I tried once more to frame a question in a way that would allow them to perhaps partly express their feelings. I asked Waseam if he was worried about his friends who go to the front of the demonstration. His silence stretched out for what felt like minutes before he finally replied, “I do worry about my friends”. His gaze fell to the floor and once again we were absorbed into his silence.
The sound of scraping chairs marked the end of our meeting. I left wishing Waseam a full recovery and I asked him to promise to “stay safe”. It felt ridiculous saying these words considering the context. Living in Kafr Qaddum, even if you avoid the weekly demonstration, is anything but “staying safe”.
This article was written for the Tattooed Football blog.
As the football season draws to a close most of us are sitting back waiting for a summer of football to begin. With less than a month now until Euro 2012 kicks off, football fans across the globe are gearing up for the tournament, stocking up the fridge and pinning up the fixture list. Here in Israel and Palestine it is no exception. I have already sorted out front row seats for the England/France opener down the local (coffee shop)! There is however one exception, one guy who isn’t joining in this build up. His name is Mahmoud al-Sarsak who is, or at least I should say was, a member of the Palestinian football team.
Mahmoud is currently being held under Israel’s ‘Unlawful Combatant Law’ (a form of administrative detention – held without trial) and has been on hunger strike since the 22nd March 2012 in protest. Mohmoud’s detention is not up for renewal until 22nd August 2012. The insightful amongst you might well notice that this is well after the championships. The even more insightful amongst you might have counted up the days in your head and worked out that this guy might not even be alive come the championships. Amnesty International report that his health is “deteriorating”. The longest ever Palestinian hunger strike is 77 days – this is one record no one wants to see him break but he is coming pretty close. How much longer he can hold on for is debatable but I would count it in days not weeks.
You might well be thinking at this point “Bit of shitter, but there is f*** all I can do about it” (note the compulsory swear words proceeding any badly thought out point on the terraces). Well, I have good news for you. There are a few people over here that have the power to stop all this. One of them is a chap called Ehud Barak – he’s the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and also the Defence Minister (in other words he holds a bit of sway). What we are asking is pretty simple. We would like him to firstly ensure Mahmoud is given full and specialised medical care in a hospital suitable to provide such care. And secondly to ensure that Mahmoud is either released or charged with internationally recognizable criminal offences and brought to trial in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards (jargon I know but it’s important – trust me). Not big asks. If you have a chance, get the quill out and put these point onto paper and send them to:
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
I am sure he would love to hear from you.
Mahmoud is not only a footballer, but a relative and a bloody human being. I find it disgusting that someone could be held for three years without charge or trial. All it will cost you is a few minutes (keep it short) and few pence down the post office.
If you are really keen you can find loads more information here. If you are really really keen send this blog onto your mates. It is mad to think, but you have the power to make a difference and maybe save a guys life.
At 25 years of age, he has spent nearly a quarter of his life in prison. Despite his tender age, he has the look of a man who has already seen too much. Sat in a plastic garden chair Aref looks into the near distance as he answers our questions. Surrounding him are his friends and family who have not seen him since his arrest 6 years previous. The room holds a feeling of collective cohesion, together they are strong, but alone I suspect anyone of them could fall apart. Six years ago, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) took him from his house in the middle of the night and he was charged him with possession of a weapon – a charge that he denies but for which he was found guilty.
I ask Aref about his experiences inside the four different Israeli prisons where he was kept. What he does not say tells a story in itself. His gaunt and clearly underfed body sits slumped in his chair as he struggles through his mind for details that he is not comfortable recalling. He was moved between different prisions after making formal complaints about the conditions in which he was kept. When I tentatively ask him to expand, he simply replies, “they were bad”.
Aref has been a free man for only a few hours when we are ushered to his house. They wanted us to see a ‘good news’ story – a young man returned to his mother. What I heard and saw however was that of a life reduced to distant stares and painful memories.
Aref was detained inside of Israel despite living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), this meant that he was cut off from his family. This is a clear violation of international law. As Malcolm Smart of Amnesty International said, “International human rights standards and international humanitarian law guarantee every person deprived of liberty the right to humane and dignified conditions of detention…and regular family visits”. What Aref described to me was a breach of these rights.
His case however is not unique. 6 years is a standard punishment for being caught in possession of a weapon. Equally, Aref was just one of the 5,200 Palestinians from the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – and the Gaza Strip, who are currently detained in facilities run by the Israel Prison Service. The vast majority are detained inside Israel. For Aref, years went past where he was not allowed to receive any visitors at all.
I ask him, perhaps through naivety, if he suffered any physical punishment inside prison and for the first time in the meeting a flicker of life passes through his eyes as he snorts before muttering, “of course”. There is an awkward silence as all we all stare at the floor – I feel embarrassed for asking such a crass question. Aref breaks the silence by explaining that he will never forget what happened to him inside prison. I do not have the nerve or inclination to ask him to expand.
His family around him are buzzing with excitement to see him again after all these years. Before I go, I turn to his mother and ask a question which I hoped would encompass the ‘good news story’ that we had come to see. I ask her what it feels like to have her son back. She looks at me and smiles as a tear forms in the corner of her eye and she says in clear English, “very happy”. My professionalism drops and I meet her smile.
On the way out, Hassan who had arranged the meeting for us moves the conversation onto the 7 other young men who were arrested last night. My heart sinks as I imagine each of their mothers sitting out the years waiting for their sons to be returned. Tomorrow we will try to meet with some of the families of those newly arrested.
Today marked a milestone in the campaign to tackle the discriminatory policy which had banned gay men from donating blood. This ‘modern’ policy however, in full knowledge of the latest medical advice, is still fundamentally discriminatory and stops gay and bi-sexual men from donating when they are safe to do so.
The change in policy basically changes a lifetime ban for a gay or bi-sexual man from giving blood to a one year ban. It is clearly a step in the right direction and will undoubtably enable some gay and bi-sexual men from giving blood. At a time of national shortage however, we need every man and women who safely can to donate blood.
As Ben Summerskill the Chief Executive of Stonewall commented, ‘To retain a blanket ban on any man who has had sex with another man in the last year, even if he has only had oral sex, remains disproportionate on the basis of available evidence”. Significantly I would also add to this comment, “even if the sex was protected and with just one partner”. For me this new policy remains fundamentally unacceptable and discriminatory. Let me explain through an example.
A gay man in a monogamous relationship who has only had oral sex with one partner his entire life will still automatically be unable to give blood. This is in contrast to a heterosexual man who has had multiple partners and not worn a condom with any of his partners who will not be questioned about his behaviour, let alone banned.
I would argue that all those who wish to donate blood should be questioned on their sexual behaviour, regardless of their sexuality, and then assessed appropriately. This currently does not happen.
Therefore this blog post ends with a plea. For anyone who fits into the new arbitrary criteria to give blood, please do. Go and give blood for all of those who cannot. People’s lives depend on it.
Stop. If you are man, watch the video before going any further.
One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lives.
There are many overlapping and exceptionally complicated reasons to why this problem remains so prevalent. A few thousand years of patriarchy probably doesn’t help; but I believe that the deep rooted stereotypes of gender also play a significant part in perpetuating this problem.
I have already had the experience of seeing people I care about being beaten and manipulated by partners that stated they loved them. It is totally unacceptable, and yet good, well meaning friends and family help to perpetuate the problem through their use of language and behaviour.
The video represents an extreme example, but it serves to highlight that fine line between banter amongst (normally male) mates and totally unacceptable comments. To understand this, you have to understand violence against women as more than simply physical violence. There are forms of emotional violence – from sexist joking, to sexual harassment at work, to other domineering forms of behaviour. By remaining silent about these things, we become complicit in creating both immediate conditions to allow this behaviour to persist but also the long term culture that fosters these views and actions.
We live in an age where 1 in 4 men believe a woman is partially responsible for being raped if she wears provocative clothing. A third of people believe women who flirt are partially responsible for being raped. There is an attitude that helps to dehumanise woman to such an extent, men can rationalise the most unacceptable behaviour. It is up to us to look and try and understand how we have ended up in a situation where so many hold such fundamentally unacceptable ideas.
I hope that by being quite funny and appealing to our “inner man” that this video will help us down the long and exceptionally slow road to tackling the social and cultural norms that allow these levels of violence to persist. Hopefully it will allow us to once more proudly proclaim that We are Man!